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Amazon pulls lock screen ads from discounted Prime phones

Newer technology makes the sales pitches impractical.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
February 6, 2018
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Amazon's Prime Exclusive phones are decent bargains over their regular counterparts, but there has always been a catch: your lock screen becomes a billboard. It doesn't really feel like your phone with those ads and offers. You won't have to put up with that marketing for much longer, however. Amazon will sell its Prime-only phones without lock screen ads as of February 7th, and it's pushing an update this week that will strip the promos from existing phones. Amazon's app shortcuts will still be front and center once you've unlocked your phone, but you can always remove those if you don't care for Kindle books or Prime Video. Those who paid to remove ads can get refunds.

The company explains this as a reflection of technological reality. Now that many phones have face recognition and fingerprint readers, Amazon wants to be sure those features work well. Ads that hijack your lock screen can sometimes preclude that. The company also touts the ability to personalize your screen as a motivating factor, although many would have argued that has been important from the outset.

Unfortunately, there's a gotcha involved -- Amazon is raising the price of every Prime Exclusive phone by $20. They should still represent discounts over the regular price, but they won't necessarily be the sweet deals you're used to. With that said, this could be a worthwhile sacrifice if you're tired of receiving sales pitches every time you text a friend. For the most part, you're now getting a garden variety smartphone that just happens to cost less than usual.

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